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Tornado aftermath tests the resilience of Westbank community

According to Gretna officials, the tornado damaged more than 100 buildings in the city alone.

GRETNA, La. — A strong tornado ripped through Harvey, Marrero – and Gretna with a vengeance. 

Local leaders told WWL-TV, digging out from this storm will certainly test the resilience of the Westbank community. 

From the air, you can spot the tornado’s path of destruction. 

It dropped down on some buildings and spared others. 

The twister tore part of the roof off the Infant Jesus Catholic Church on Maple Avenue in Harvey. 

The church’s stained-glass windows and sacred mural over the altar somehow survived the impact. 

Don Caskey is a parishioner there. 

“They weren’t hurt at all,” Caskey said. “One of them is right underneath where the roof came off, praise the Lord there.” 

The tornado seriously damaged the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s training academy and firing range. 

It also hit West Jefferson High School where debris covered the campus and crews worked to cover a hole in the roof. 

The tornado also dealt a major blow to families on MacArthur Avenue. 

It damaged homes, knocked down power lines and trees and scattered debris across the neighborhood. 

“It was just raining a little bit and then it sounded really loud, like a train was coming through,” Graham Ball said. 

Ball was inside his home when the twister took his roof in a matter of seconds. 

"Just a little pressure,” Ball said. “We were underneath the attic vent for the fan, It turned sideways and saw the roof go poof. It was over with.” 

The tornado also rocked Ray Fitch’s home. 

“I could just hear stuff hitting the house, really, really loud. It felt like the house shook a little bit, maybe it was just me, I don’t know.  

The twister dropped down on Romain Street in Gretna’s McDonoghville neighborhood.  

There not much left of Oliver Young’s home.  

“I had just gone through it with Ida,” Young said. “This side of the house was messed up. Got that fixed. Now with this tornado, this side of the house is messed up.” 

Young says he doesn’t know how you recover from something like this.  

Other families in the tornado-stricken areas are asking the same question. 

“Got to start from the roof all over again,” Young said. “I don’t know why but it’s the Lord’s will and we’re going to get through it some way, somehow.” 

Gretna officials say the tornado damaged more than 100 buildings in the city. 

Thirty of them were damaged so severely, they are now slated for demolition.

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